“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us” – Marianne Williamson , Founder of the Peace Alliance
Here’s how you know that you might be giving away your personal power.
If you ever feel powerless to change your feelings of anger, helplessness, impotence, sadness, resentment, despite your best efforts. If you feel victimized by or angry at people or situations because of how they make you feel. If you find yourself allowing others to influence your choices despite your own wishes, desires or judgment.
What do I mean by personal power? My definition of personal power is taking ownership of your life and how you feel. Ownership of your life includes owning your choices and the consequences of your actions in an honest way.
When I was in college, some loved ones did not approve of my boyfriend and pressured me to break up with him. They were resentful of him and did not treat him civilly. They gave away their power because they were not able to control their feelings and take the high road. Fortunately, I was mature enough to know that breaking up would make me feel like I was doing the wrong thing, and for the wrong reason. In this case, I kept my power, my integrity and acted true to my principles.
In other words, I give away my power when I let situations or other people control what I do or how I feel.
I haven’t always been so consistent about using my personal power. I have been willing to believe the negative things other people have said about me to me. I have chosen to nurture anger, blame and resentment instead of looking to understand. I have judged other people and felt superior. Each time, I made that decision to give away my power and chose my Darkness. When I chose my Darkness, I created more Darkness, sometimes in myself, sometimes in others. Usually it was not a conscious decision to give away my power. Usually I just gave myself over to my emotional reaction or my belief I was right, not stopping to question either.
If I had gotten onto the balcony for a dispassionate look at my choices, I would see that I chose judgment over compassion, blame over responsibility, resentment over forgiveness, impotence over empowerment. I would see that I allowed someone else to determine my level of happiness and my path rather than taking ownership of my feelings and my destiny.
At the time I did not realize I was giving away this incredible power, my happiness, my peace of mind, my Light, to others. There were a series of Aha moments where I regained my power, a fragment at a time.
The first one came when I realized I didn’t have to believe what other people said about me. I regained in that moment the power to decide how I felt about myself. I gave up my feelings of self-recrimination and replaced it with self-acceptance.
The second one came when I realized I didn’t have to believe what I was telling myself* (some of this self-talk was subconscious). I regained in that moment the power to forgive myself for being imperfect and to view myself with a more realistic lens. I gave up my feelings of inadequacy and need for control and replaced it with an increasing self-appreciation and acceptance of others as they are.
The third one came when I realized that I was just as responsible when my relationships were going well as when they were going poorly*. I regained in that moment the power to make improvements in myself and my relationships as well. I gave up feeling like a victim and became empowered to take a fresh perspective and improve both myself and my relationships.
The fourth one came when I realized that how I interpret the world through my emotional filters was not necessarily reality. I regained in that moment the power to free myself from the emotional baggage that tainted my interpretation of the world. I gave up being a slave to my feelings and replaced that with the ability to choose a more balanced, positive perspective and to have a large dose of peace and serenity.
The fifth one came when I realized that we were all connected in a mysterious way. I regained in that moment an appreciation for the right half of my brain and my connection with the universe. I gave up believing my left brain defined my identity and instead sought to reinforce that mysterious connection whenever possible.
The bottom line? Clearly, I was beyond clueless. Now, at least I have begun getting smarter and happier.
What’s even more cool is that I’m sure that there are many more Aha moments for me. What other ways am I giving away my power? What will I learn that will help me be more confident, competent, graceful, kind, empathic, self-actualizing? Where can I replace within me more Darkness with Light? How can I make my corner of the world a little brighter? I’m excited to find out.
This blog was inspired by VC.
*Footnote: Discussed in other blogs –Healing the Perfectionist and Control Freak, How Difficult People Are a Blessing. Part I – Those Closest To You, How Difficult People Are a Blessing. Part II – Acquaintances, The Blessings of a Dysfunctional Marriage, Newfound Respect for My Right Brain